If you’re looking for some bloody violence, this is the movie for you! The opening sequence alone has a higher body count than even Tarantino’s most epic movie. A woman named Sook-hee (unseen until the end of the fighting) goes into a building and hall by hall, room by room, kills every single man in the place. They’re shooting and knifing and martial arting at her, too, but she’s just a better bad-ass than any of them. And at the end she walks out covered in blood ready to be arrested by the waiting police. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in some shady off-book South Korean Intelligence agency’s secret facility, and she’s told they’re going to train her, use her for various nefarious undercover ops, and after ten years she’ll have her freedom back. Or they can kill her. She goes for option one.

As she’s going through training, with a bit of plastic surgery on the side, she’s being secretly watched by all sorts of people, with one group of young men in particular. One of them is taken with her. And it is the plan that once she’s undercover in the outside world, he’ll be vying for her affection, unbeknownst to her that he is part of the organization. Oh, and she finds out she’s pregnant during training, too. So there’s this cute little girl thrown into the bloody mix. But who is this violent young woman that so many people want to kill? In a series of sometimes confusing flashbacks the audience learns of her origins, her motives, and her nemesis.

Calling this The Villainess doesn’t really describe who Sook-hee is, though she certainly is on a mission to avenge. Perhaps it is referring to one of the other women in the film. No telling since there are so many twists and turns you lose track of who are the good guys and who are the villains. The actress (Ok-bin Kim) who plays her though is quite good and I’d love to see her in another role that better shows her acting chops. This is definitely a movie for people who are into bloody action flicks. The love and betrayal stories that wind somewhat melodramatically through the film don’t make it any more mainstream. But the fight scenes are truly epic. And if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll probably love the movie. Otherwise, I’d say skip it.

One thought on “Review: The Villainess (AK-NYEO)”
  1. Ironically, I skipped a screening of “American Assassin” because I didn’t feel like watching a hyper-violent action movie. I watched this one instead. Joke was on me! You really, really, REALLY have to be a fan of the genre (South Korean action movies?) to tackle this one. It’s very bloody. And confusing. The first 5 minutes were torture to watch but I stuck it out and eventually there were moments of peace and the potential for romance. And a cute kid. Then – bam! More guns, knives, axes, choke holds, blood splatter galore! Vengeance is hers. Maybe. Forewarned is forearmed.

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